How to Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time

September 19, 2014

You’ve probably wondered if this is even possible… can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time? Every time someone comes to me for advice and I ask them their goal, that is probably the most common goal that I hear.


There is probably a lot of contradictory information out there as well. You can, you can’t, whatever. So, what’s the truth?

Well, there are two types of people that can in fact lose fat and build muscle at the same time:

1. Beginners

2. People who have taken off from the gym for a long period of time

Think about it. People who have never really lifted before or even done HIIT cardio, you WILL see fat loss as well as an increase in muscle mass. Sure, they won’t look like a bodybuilder or something immediately, but it will happen.

As for people who have taken time off, muscle memory will allow them to rebuild some of that muscle lost, and possibly lose some fat at the same time.

Now, the problem lies when you are an experienced gym-goer. Most likely, you will not be able to build and lose at the same time, at the same rate.

If you want to build a good amount of muscle (which is HARD especially for girls), you need to be in a caloric surplus – which means eating more than you burn. To lose a good amount of fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit – which means, eating less than you burn.

This is why people who compete, for example, diet down and get super lean for their competition by eating less and doing some more cardio, and then take an “off-season” and slowly build up their calories and reduce cardio. This is to make the most amount of “gains” in the off-season as they can.

If you don’t want to go through a bulking/cutting phase, you can certainly do what is called a “body re-composition” phase. For this, you would eat at maintenance and just focus on killing your workouts, still lifting heavy, and doing some cardio. The thing with this though, it is a very, VERY slow process. But, if you are in no hurry, or just want to live life, it is definitely an option. You can still see some results like eating at maintenance and just killing your workouts.


What information have you heard about this topic?

Always love to hear your thoughts/comments below!

    1. I’ve always had an overall fitness goal of “maintaining” my weight and muscle tone. It was interesting to read about preparing for competitions and what you do to achieve those goals. Great article!

    1. There is a misconception about “losing fat” though… You never actually LOSE FAT, your fat cells just get smaller when you lose weight. You can always gain more fat cells, but you can never lose them, unless you have invasive surgery like lipo… :-/

      1. Nailed it! Very true statement, but it’s always so much easier to call it fat loss hehe 😛

    1. Love this reminder! I do appreciate that you didn’t sugar coat this. As someone who is in the gym all the time, I just look to get stronger (lift the same or more) while slowly cutting calories if I’m trying to lose fat. It’s a slow process but worth the energy if you don’t lose your gains in the gym! Thanks again for sharing!

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